A/V Room









Ocean's 12 - George Clooney, Matt Damon & Don Cheadle interview

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q: So this is the second time around. Did you feel that your friendship got stronger?
No, this one was actually a job. Did anybody get along on this?
MATT DAMON: Not really.
DON CHEADLE: I don't really remember, uh...
GC: There was actually no camaraderie at all on the set. No, we had a great time always. You know, they're fun people.

Q: What makes the Danny Ocean gang cool?
The director makes you cool.
DC: I think Steven set the tone. He could have really been safe and tried to do the same thing over again but this film was a lot more fun, I think, and a lot more cinematic. I mean, he just opened it up and definitely hit the top and he's not scared if he doesn't.
GC: And Jerry did. Jerry getting everybody together makes a big difference. Those are the two cool elements of this group. The rest of them were kind of dorks. [laughter]

Q: You were very generous to let other cast mates stay at your house in your Italy. Did they behave well and are there any regrets about the decision for letting them stay?
(overlapping) Right we had to pay…no, it was generous.
GC: I thought it was generous. Were there any regrets? I have a lot of regrets about them staying in my house although Matt is very clean. I will say that. He cleaned up his room. No, it was really fun. We had a great time. Yeah, I have quite a few regrets actually. (laughter)

Q: Mr. Clooney, do you really feel you might look 50 one day?
What do you mean one day? [laughter]
GC: We put that in script because I was in Italy last year and some younger girl said to me, “Georgio how old are you?” And I am stupid enough to ask the question that you should never ask, “Well, how old do you think?” (laughter) “50.” So, Steven thought it be funny to put it in the film.

Q: What were the dangers for you in putting together a sequel like this, so that the film would retain a degree of its own originality as opposed to simply following up on the first one?
The truth was we didn't start the first one with the idea of doing a second. The second one came about organically.
We were literally in a restaurant in Rome and Steven who had never been to Italy before, looked up and said, 'I have an idea for a sequel'.
The film hadn't opened or maybe it just opened. The truth of the matter is we wouldn't have shown up if Steven hadn't had a different way of telling the story.
The problem with sequels, as we all agree, is that it's usually just sort of a rehash of the film before it. You try to detect the things that work and Steven had a way of saying, “Well, let's mix up what just happened in the first one and really throw these guys off.” We thought that was an interesting idea and a reason to do a sequel. The only danger is repeating yourself.

Q: What is one story you guys have that we haven't heard so far, day on the set, something?
Brad had done some dastardly things to me. When we were in Rome, when we first got to Italy, Brad had a memo put out in Italian that said that to all the Italian crew that Mr Clooney would appreciate if you would only engage him as Danny Ocean or Mr Ocean and don't look at him in the eyes and...It really sounded like I was trying to stay in character.
For about a month, that went around. Everywhere I went, they were like, 'Okay, Mr Ocean'. (laughter) I found out and it got in the paper that I was like this diva...

Q: You've just finished this one but is there a chance for a third one? If so, do you skip over 13 altogether like a hotel elevator and go straight to 14?
We came up with our own theory which was the musical. (laughter) Well, look we're not even thinking about it. I mean, honestly, we really aren't. The only reason we did the last one because Steven said, 'Here's a great idea' and Jerry said, 'Let's put it together'.
MD: If Steven and Jerry wanted to do it, everyone in the cast would be open to it. There are really fun things to work on.

Q: You’ve all worked on caper pictures. Can you push too far the whole idea of twists and turns?
Sure, but I think in almost every good caper movie, the caper's the least important part. I mean, in the first film, the caper wasn't the most important part. It was the camaraderie. You want to have a good story and you want to have a good fun caper.
I think that the mistake that filmmakers make is when they decide that the caper's the most important thing in the film.
Until Get Shorty, they failed at making Elmore Leonard films because instead of focusing on the characters, they were focusing on the capers. And the capers in Elmore Leonard books aren't particularly good but the characters are amazing. Then all of a sudden you see it done well, like in Get Shorty or Out Of Sight, and you focus on the characters. So, sure, you're right.

Q: Matt, your character this time asks for bigger part, for more participation in the scheme. Are you happy that you got a bigger part?
No, actually, I asked for a smaller part. I wanted to just do less and work less. I was pretty tired. But he gave me a bigger part anyway.
GC: You know, he shows up, he's like, 'I got a big hit sequel coming out already. I think I should I have a bigger part'. So, we gave it to him.
MD: No, actually I don't know, it kind of came out, I don't know how the character ended up being kind of bumbler in this movie and I think it was a reaction to doing The Bourne Supremacy. I wanted to play a guy who (laugh) wasn't really right very often. How's that?

Q: How differently did each of you approach this material as opposed to the first film? In the first film, the audience had a sense of certainty, you guys had everything under control, you were putting one over on the Andy Garcia character whereas here, there's no sense of certainty for the audience of what they're trying to accomplish.
I think it's a lot more fun playing people who are totally fallible and screwing up. It was a lot more fun this time around.
GC: Well, the first one, we really planned it out. We decided to do it, we weren't forced into the situation where we had to do it. All of a sudden, when we were on the defensive, it's a completely different set of rules. And that was to me, the most fun for us, we all felt that we may not pull this off.
MD: Also, you're introducing a new character who's a central character in the movie who is trying to catch us. So, if we seem like we're just going to get away with it, it kind of weakens that character structurally. You want her to be one step ahead of us and you want her to be formidable. You want Vincent's character to be formidable as well.

Q: You spent a lot of time in Europe for this film. What do you like particularly about Europe?
Good food. I've been lucky enough to have a home in Italy and spend some time there. I'm a huge fan of all of it. You know, I grew up in Kentucky so I didn't get to travel much when I was young.

Q: Don said earlier that this movie was more cinematic. Can you address the fact that the direction that Soderbergh chose to take was a more gritty, and less glamorous, take?
I think we're just older. You know, and we just look less glamorous. [laughter]
And by 'we', you know who I'm talking about. [laughter]
GC: Thanks again. That one hurt, that one hurt. The first one wasn't as grand as I think people remember it. When you look at it, it's still a lot of handheld camera. Steven uses things that he learned from independent films and from foreign films back into studio pictures. I think this is another step towards that, which is, I think you're right, it's a little grittier. But it's still sort of high-end entertainment.
DC: I think it's on a much bigger sort of palette, I think, than the first one. He's playing with colors in way and with sound and I just think it's a lot more fun. And it moves more. It's a lot more kinetic than the first one was to me. He brings all this from making films from the independent world and for me, it always is much more exciting than the sort of standard slick Hollywood take.

Q: What did you learn about each other while making this movie?
I don't think I learned more about anybody necessarily this time, but I ended up closer to everyone. That was what kind of cool about this one. The first day we came back to work in Chicago, we sat around two hours just talking and just kind of reminiscing and just kind of got reacquainted. Then, after a couple of hours, we were all looking around saying, 'Are we going to shoot? Are we going to work today?' We all naturally settled in place and we all went to lunch.
GC: We worked on a lot of projects and we tracked a lot of projects with Steven. This whole group of people, we really enjoy not just working with each other but being around each other. When we all get together in a room, it is really fun. There is a good sense of camaraderie not just because you like the guys but also because you get to work with them more.

Q: How much of the plot and the scenes were improvised by the ensemble?
Well, structurally, heist movies, in general, script-wise have to be really tight because you have so many storylines going and so much happening and they're so kind of plot-oriented a lot of the time. There was leeway for all of us within a set structure, but the script had to be pretty tight by design. But there was still a lot of little things, like the character stuff, that was open to us. And Steven’s environments are incredibly relaxed, so it's kind of fair game, you take a shot with some stuff and see if you get a reaction from him. If he starts chuckling, you stay with it. If not, you go running back with your tail between your legs to the script.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould because they're just such classic scene stealers?
A lot of people tend to gravitate around Carl and Elliot, they are just incredibly fun and intelligent. They've been through it all. It's so much fun to sit around and have them tell stories and they're not trying to teach you any lessons, they're asking you questions. They teach you a lot about how to live your life the right way. You know, they're just the coolest guys, both of them.

Q: With so much fun on the set, how did you guys get any work done? Can you walk us through a typical day of work, play, work, play?
The heavy lifting on these movies really does fall to Steven which he likes. He likes it that way. He's creatively a really restless person. He loves to work and I think that's one of the reasons he likes to direct and be the cinematographer and the camera operator and go home and edit at night.
These movies, for me, are always going to feel easier just because the workload's divided up 12 different ways. We're used to doing movies where we go everyday to work and are working five, six days a week and never have a day off. And 'Ocean's', we'd have three days off a week or something like that. So, the days we worked, I mean, we really did work. We actually had to show up for 12 hours. But by and large, I think it was always going to feel easier for us.
GC: We got up, we'd go to work at a decent hour. We would for, I don't know, eight, nine hours, something like that. And then started drinking...

Q: Is this the greatest gig on earth that you guys have?
Yeah, it's a great gig. Let's face it, it's a great gig. We all like it, that's why we continue to do it. And we really like it at this level because we get to be more creative. You know, add some input into what you're actually making as opposed to just relying on what they want.
DC: I agree 100 per cent. For me, it was a great to do Ocean's because it was kind of a respite from what I had just been doing right before that. To sort of reunite with all these friends. It's just really been a cool breeding ground.

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